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Ava Is 26 Months Old

 

Ava is a walking talking little person.  She’s a bit irrational about things, but incredibly charming.

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Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava’s independence is being tempered by her experimenting with the concept of fear.  For example, when Ava visited a new park, she wouldn’t go on the tallest slide because she was scared.
  • However, she is still fine with running away from me in the grocery store.  Ava’s latest trick is to run far enough away that I’m not visible.  Then she runs up to people and falls down.  She pretends to be hurt and asks the people for help.  Sometimes she lays it on extra thick and starts crying for mommy.  Ava thinks this is hilarious.  I’m amused by the concept, but a bit frustrated when it’s occurring to me.  The last step is that she will fall down and when she sees me, she’ll say that her butt hurts.  Then she’ll ask me to kiss it.  But the joke is on Ava because I’ll kiss any part of her.
  • I always thought Ava was in a mommy phase, but I had no idea.  Ava has now reached the pinnacle of a mommy phase.  Last weekend I had trouble making simple meals because Ava couldn’t go more than five minutes without touching me or being held.  It’s hard to chop vegetables with one hand because a toddler is in the other hand.
  • Ava is very creative with her play.  She took a pan from her toy cooking supplies and put these magnets on it that are in the shape of sticks.  Ava arranged the magnets along the edge of the pan.  She presented it to Jon as a birthday cake.
  • Ava loves to wrestle with her dad.  Her favorite activity is to do somersaults over Jon’s leg.

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Foods and Liquids

Ava was eating lightly for awhile, but she’s been voraciously eating in the last few days.  Ava enjoys 1-2 eggs for breakfast and ice cream, for lunch she eats fruit and yogurt, she has a snack in the afternoon that also includes ice cream or a push pop, and a dinner that is a simplified version of ours.  Also, she drinks lots and lots of milk.

Sleep

Ava’s sleep is still transitioning out of the nap.  Some weekends she doesn’t take any naps, some weekends she takes a 1.5 hour naps.  At bedtime she likes me to read books over and over again.  Sometimes I’ll read a book seven times in a night.

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Language Skills

  • Ava’s up to being able to identify ten types of birds:  macaw, duck, chicken, goose, peacock, flamingo, owl, crow, penguin,  turkey, woodpecker, and seagull (okay birders, I know there’s not a bird called a seagull but I’m not going to get a two year old to identify a Glaucous Gull).  She’s close to identifying eagles and toucans, but she has a lot of false positives.
  • Ava gets very involved in television shows and she likes to narrate the shows for us.  “Oh no.  Baba Boo all gone!”
  • She’s very in touch with three emotions now: happy, sad, and scared.  If she’s scared, she wants to touch me for support and sometimes we need to stop watching a television show.  She experiments with the concept too.  She’ll tell you she’s scared and she wants to be comforted even though nothing really happened.  I think it’s important to validate her feelings so that even if she’s not actually scared, she knows that we’re there to support and comfort her.
  • Ava remembers events and will recount them for you.  One day a cat outside got mad at Ava petting her and jumped on her head.  Several hours later when Jon came home from work Ava told him all about it.
  • Ava has been categorizing things based on her family unit.  She likes to categorize any object, from beads to bears, as a daddy object, a mommy object, and a baby object.  She’s included our nanny in the categorization.  Our nanny’s name is Linda.  The other day we were playing with a three-year old and her grandmother.  Ava kept calling her grandmother Linda.  I think Ava believes all grandmothers are called Linda.

An Artist Is Born

Ava is very artistic.  For two straight weeks, every morning she asked me to set up her paints during breakfast.  Since Jon got her an easel, she waits until after breakfast to use it outside.  She takes painting very seriously.

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In the picture above, Ava is also wearing one of my shirts as a dress.  I’m bad about folding my laundry, but I’m getting better now that she keeps pilfering clothing from the laundry basket.

I discovered that finger painting is probably too advanced for a two-year old.  She loved it, but I had to take her away from the paints before the entire backyard was covered in paints.  Ava also wound up pretty messy.

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Most of her artwork involves requests for someone to draw Peppa Pig.  When she branches out and asks for a cat or another animal, it’s very exciting.  On the plus side, I can draw a fantastic Peppa Pig.

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“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”

Bahá’u’lláh

 

Since I work from home and we aren’t very social people, I don’t get a lot of social interaction.  So I was really surprised recently when I talked to an examiner at the USPTO.  I had called him to ask about the status of a case.  He asked me if I was on the East Coast and I responded that I was on Mountain time because I live in Utah.  I guess he took that to mean I am conservative because he said that he lives in Colorado but it’s tough for him because they limited the gun laws so he can’t buy AR-15’s.  He went on to say that he doesn’t like Denver because it doesn’t look like the United States.

I’ve been mulling over the conversation for a few weeks and I have three distinct thoughts.

1. Stop complaining about immigrants

This examiner kept complaining about immigrants.  In addition to complaining that Denver is too diverse, he complained about how hard it is to work at the USPTO because he has to work with non-native speakers.  He said he used to only understand 70% of what his boss says and now it’s up to 80% but he feels that it’s harming his ability to do quality work.

I found his comments to be outrageous.  First off, I don’t understand why people complain about immigrants being in the United States.  With the exception of Native Americans, the essence of America is that it was founded by immigrants.  In the beginning it was people from Britain, France, Spain, etc.  And now it’s people from Mexico, South America, India, etc.  If you live in the U.S. you need to accept that it’s a diverse country.  Sure, you can live in your little uniform pockets.  Believe me, I know, I live in Utah.  But the major cities are going to be diverse.  That’s never going to change.

Second, he picked one of the worst places to work if he doesn’t like immigrants.  I think 50% of the examiners I talk to were born outside the U.S.  And for the most part, they’re reasonable people.  This examiner is the worst person I’ve ever interacted with at the USPTO because he’s so intolerant.

The goal should be to embrace our differences and learn from them.  One of the best things I’ve ever done is visit China.  I never realized until that trip that a culture could be so different from mine.  And that’s fantastic.  I’ve been learning about Chinese culture and cooking, and it’s fascinating.  Life is boring if you stay in the same place and only interact with people that look like you who share your same beliefs.

2. No one wants to hear about your take on guns

This examiner lectured me about how Colorado is passing the wrong kind of gun laws and limiting his ability to buy the guns that he wants to buy.  Even if I was pro-gun, this discussion would have been uncomfortable because of his fervor surrounding gun rights.  Don’t discuss guns at work.  No one is going to change my stance; no one is going to change your stance.

3. Don’t talk politics when you’re in a position of power

I really want this examiner to allow the case he’s examining.  That means I’m not in a position where I can be blunt and tell the examiner he was being inappropriate.  And he should know that.  It was very telling that this examiner said at the end of our conversation, “I hope I didn’t say anything that was too politically incorrect.”  That is a person who knows that everything he said was politically incorrect.  This examiner was probably lonely since he works from home and quite possibly has few friends given that they would have to be pro-gun white males to satisfy his requirements, but that’s no excuse.  Maybe he should welcome some diversity in his life just so he can have someone to talk to.

 

 

Ava Is 25 Months Old

No promises that I’ll keep this up for the full year, but it’s a nice way to look up Ava’s progress when I want to remember various milestones.

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Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava’s getting to be a bit too independent.  She’s becoming a runner in the grocery store.  I used to be able to shop knowing that she wouldn’t let me out of her sight, but now I often have to hold her while I shop because she’s comfortable being two aisles away from me and I am not.
  • She’s a master climber.  She got annoyed yesterday because she came across a tree without sufficient footholds.  She kept saying “Climb?  Climb?”

Foods and Liquids

Ava is a great eater.  She eats a lot more vegetables than I expect a toddler to eat.  For example, she likes mushrooms.  The only things she doesn’t like are stuff that’s too spicy and leafy greens.  Everything else she’ll at least eat a few bites of.  Her favorite thing right now is the food at this Mexican seafood restaurant we visit.  She loves the refried beans, rice, and shrimp quesadillas.  She eats more food at that restaurant that she often eats during a regular day.

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Sleep

Ava is going through a transition right now.  If she naps during the day, she doesn’t go down until at least 10pm, sometimes 11pm.  If she doesn’t nap, she goes down quickly and by 9pm.  But it’s a balance.  On the weekends I usually give her naps because otherwise by 4pm she’s a wreck.  Or, like today, she fell asleep on the way to the library and I returned books, found new books, and checked out those books all while she was sleeping on my shoulder.  Then we drove home and she slept for another hour.

Language Skills

  • In my last post I said Ava knew eight birds, but she knows two more!  She knows: macaw, duck, chicken, goose, peacock, flamingo, owl, crow, penguin, and turkey.
  • She knows so many random words too.  Like today she pointed in a book and correctly identified a scarecrow.
  • She understands context as well.  The other day she was going down steps.  I said “careful” and she responded “Careful steps!”
  • She also knows enough words to make her desires known, which can be helpful.  Today she said “Take Teddy for a walk,” which meant she wanted to hold his leash as we walked around the neighborhood.  It made her so happy to do that today.

Updates

Ava knows so many specific words!  Her knowledge of different types of birds expands every day.  The newest bird is flamingo.  Now she knows macaw, duck, chicken (including the distinction between roosters and hens), goose, peacock, flamingo, owl, and crow.  She knows so many random animals too.  She has British pronunciations for zebra (sounds like zeb-bra) and turtle (she says tortious) because she watches to many British shows.

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Ava had her two-year checkup and she did great.  She is 91% for head circumference (from her dad), 84% for height (at 35.39 inches), and 70% for weight (at 28.4 lbs).  The weight surprised me since she’s such a skinny baby, but I guess it’s because she’s so tall.  The doctor asked if she has started putting two words together, which is funny since she talks in sentences.  My favorite last week was “What doing mommy?” but she regularly says five-word sentences.

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Last week I went to D.C. for about two days (just one night) and it was the first time that Ava really missed me.  For previous trips she would look for me when I was gone, but this time Jon said she asked for me and cried when he said I went away.  We did a video chat and she kept telling me to come downstairs because she thought I was upstairs.  This weekend she was extra concerned when Jon and I would leave the house.  It will be hard to travel overnight again.

Veggie Pot Pie

pie

I made a veggie pot pie the other day from a bunch of cobbled together recipes and my own flair.  I just couldn’t find one online that worked.  I’m particularly giving the side-eye to this recipe, which added soy sauce to the veggie pot pie.  Nasty!

Crust Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Crust Instructions

Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl  whisk together the flour, the sugar, and the salt. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces.  Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with your hands. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — stop.

Start by drizzling 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together.  Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there. Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.

Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape it into a disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out.

 

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms – sliced
  • 2 carrots – diced
  • two cups potatoes – diced
  • 2 cups green beans – chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • glug of sherry

Filling Instructions

Melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for or five minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook until soft.  Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup heavy cream and sherry for taste.

Boil the carrots and potatoes until piercable with a fork.  Add the green beans and continue boiling until the carrots are soft.  Add to the flour mixture.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.  Add the filling.  Roll the second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle and cut decorative slits in it. Transfer it to center over the pie filling. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 1/2-inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk mixture over dough. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.

Transfer pie to wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes to allow the filling to solidify.

 

 

Talking

Ava holds long conversations now.  She’ll ask a question, you answer it, and she has a follow-up statement.

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Before Ava I used to swear a lot.  I’m good at not swearing now, but I need to further modify my language because she’s learning my replacement words.  For example, normally I would call someone an asshole, but now I call them a crazy person.  However, I heard Ava repeat “crazy person” back at me.  And that seems like a bad thing for a two-year old to walk around saying.  Another example is that Ava was asking about body parts when I was changing and when she pointed at me and asked what was that, I said “boobs.”  Her nanny was pretty embarrassed when Ava started talking about boobs and bras.  Although I’m not sure if her talking about breasts would be much better.

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We went to a friend’s house for dinner the other night and on the way home Ava kept saying, “Hi!  I’m Ava!”  I love how she says her name.  It sounds like Ave-ah.  My favorite pronunciation of hers, though, is baby.  It sounds like bee-bee.  Ava has been categorizing things that come in two’s and three’s as mamma object, daddy object, and baby object, so I get to hear bee-bee object a lot.

 

Ava is Two

Birthdays are so bittersweet.  I love everything that Ava is learning and the person she’s becoming.  But I miss my tiny baby and her little noises.  Happy birthday my baby.

First Week

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First Year

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Second Year

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Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava has been really into jumping lately.  She likes running in the grass and then letting the grass slide on her shoes as she jumps.
  • She has also learned to climb steps on the jungle gym at the park by herself.  I’m really impressed, they take a lot of effort but she loves the struggle.
  • Ava also likes to climb up my body and fall upside down.  She’s such a thrill seeker.
  • Ava is still very into organizing things.  If you give her a bunch of objects, she’ll reorder them for awhile.

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Foods and Liquids

  • Ava continues to be great about eating different kinds of food.  I often make a plain version of dinner for her and a spicier version for us.  Since Ava is more interested in eating my food than her own, she’s getting exposure to spices.
  • Right now she loves scrambled eggs, shrimp, soups, spaghetti, cake, cookies, grits, and biscuits with grape jelly.
  • She still wants me to hold her when she drinks bottles of milk.  I’m trying to soak it up because she’s far from being a baby anymore.

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Sleep

Sleep has been horrific.

  • Ava was sick a few weeks back and now she’s developed the habit of waking up between 2 and 5.  She stays up between 30 minutes and two hours.  It’s really hard for me, especially when it’s closer to two hours than a half hour.
  • This month we tried setting up a twin bed for Ava in her bedroom.  The idea was that I would sleep in her room with her for the first couple days and then slowly spend less time in her room.  However, she got so upset when I tried to get her to sleep in the twin bed that she threw up.  So she will be staying with me until she’s old enough to talk about it with me.  Which might be soon, the way her language is going!

Language Skills

  • Ava is putting sentences together.  She recently said “Teddy eating pencil” when Teddy tried to chew on one of her pencils.  She also said “I put on jacket too.”
  • Her vocabulary is amazing.  If you tell her a word a few times, she knows it.  We were working on a book with different types of balls.  After reading the book one night and picking it up three days later, she can now identify soccer balls!
  • Ava has a new obsession with butts, diapers, and pooping.  She’s always talking about pooping, even though she’s not actually pooping.  The other day she said “Diaper on butt” during a diaper change.  She also thinks this Yogurtland sign is a butt pooping, although I think she might be right about that one.

Yogurtland

  • Ava insists that you call her a kitty cat.  If you call her baby or even Ava she will correct you with kitty.  For example, if I say “Ava is sleepy” she will say “Kitty sleepy.”
  • We’ve been working on emotions and they’re all coming now.  Kitty is sad, happy, and silly.  Kitty also experiences a lot of physical senses like being cold, hot, and hurting.

 

Ava These Days

It’s still all about language.  Ava chatters and I can understand maybe 70% now.

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Here are some little snippets.

  • Ava is very concerned about water, rain, and puddles.  She also knows that umbrellas are associated with rain.  When she sees patio umbrellas, she points at them and says rain.  She goes through all her possessives about daddy’s boots, mommy’s boots, and baby’s boots (“bee-bee boots”).
  • She can learn new words very quickly.  She’ll say “What’s that?” about six times and then she’ll start repeating your answer.  This is how she learned the word poop when she was inspecting bird poop.
  • She’s learning to put her words together in interesting ways.  She wants to tell me that the cat was digging a hole and she said “Hole kitty doing.”  I think that’s really amazing.

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  • Ava has started to refuse to change her clothing.  I used to be able to change her pants by changing her diaper and switching out pants at the same time.  But the other day she refused to let me put pants back on her.  But!  After an hour she said “pants.”  I showed her two pairs of pants, she chose one, and she let me put them on her.  But I’m only able to change her shirt by giving her a bath, hiding the dirty shirt, and putting a new shirt on her.  I’m hoping this phase ends soon.

I spent most of my life intimidated by dough.  I tried my first pie about six months ago and it came out perfect.  Then my dough started being awful.  It wouldn’t mix together to make a dough.  Instead it would crumble when I tried to form it.  If I added more water, it would get too sticky and it would never role out properly.

 

I tried every variation of temperature, changing the water, changing how cold the butter was, using recipes with different amounts of butter, etc.  I finally found that the trick is to use nice butter with a Smitten Kitchen recipe modified to replace lard with butter since we’re vegetarians.  KellyGold Butter from Trader Joe’s is the best.  I think I’ve also finally mastered my lattice techniques.

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Crust

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
17 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
10 tablespoons ice water

1. Mix flour, salt and sugar with a whisk until combined. Use your hands to combine the butter until it forms little pea-sized granules.

2. Sprinkle 8 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if it will not come together. Divide dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. (If possible, weigh pieces. They should register 16 ounces and 14 ounces.) Flatten larger piece into a rough 5-inch square and smaller piece into a 4-inch disk; (If for a non-lattice, double crust pie, these pieces should be even in weight and both round) wrap separately in plastic and refrigerator at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.

Filling and Pie

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 large)
1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly

1. Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 1/2-inch pie plate or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.

2. Peel apples and cut without hitting the core on four sides.  Cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.

3. Set oven to 425°F.  To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction (diagram here). Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim (i.e. no overhang; only the bottom crust will have that). Gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips.  Use a pastry brush to apply the egg white.

4. Place pie on baking sheet. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

5. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours.

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